Jan 31, 2016

Corporatism versus governmentalism

Photo credit: Alan Cleaver via Foter.com / CC BY
Some people believe in property rights and see government interventions, like taxation and restrictive laws, as violations of those rights. I think government interventions are just a different kind of property right. The truth is that you don't own what you think you own, and you don't own it because of property rights that precede your own.

Just to be clear, this what I mean by property rights: If you own a piece of property then you have the right to use your property in any way you want. If you want, you can just let it sit, and not use it. You also have the to restrict others from using your property unless you give them permission. Permission might be granted in return for money or in return for anything else that you ask for and the other party agrees to.

Of course there are limits to your rights. If you have an axe, you can't chop down someone else's tree. If you own a hammer, you can't hit someone with it.Your right to use your property ends when it's used to injure another person or destroy someone else's property. More broadly, it ends when you use your in a way that violates someone else's rights.

What violates another's rights? Chopping down a tree violates the tree-owner's property rights. That's pretty clear. Hitting someone with a hammer violates some right that people have -- or should have -- to not be attacked and injured.

But this is life, and there are no bright line tests for what's a right and what is not. There are complex definitions, edge cases, and slippery slopes in the definition of rights, and I'm going to skip them. I'm also going to skip talking about what rights are and where they come from. Let's agree that rights do exist, and we can agree, in general, on what "using property without violating someone else's rights" might mean.

With that behind us, I'll define government intervention in property rights as anything that stands in the way of your full exercise of your remaining rights. For example, taxing someone for the property that they own is certainly such an intervention. Requiring that you get a license in order to use your own property might well be such an intervention.

Most people see governments as different form markets, but I've argued that governments arise as a consequence of violence markets. We see government interventions as an abridgment of property rights, but I'll argue that government intervention is a consequence of other property rights.

A thought experiment
Let's do a thought experiment to see how this works. To do that, I'm going to talk about the government of Arkansas, and I'm going to create a reasonable corporate entity that can behave almost identically to the government of Arkansas. The argument then is: if it's OK for a corporation to do, then it's also OK for a government.

The land that comprises the state of Arkansas is part of the Louisiana territory, purchased in 1803 by the United States Federal Government for $15,000,000, or about 319,000,000 in today's dollars. The territory is 828,000 square miles. Arkansas is 53,179 square miles, or a bout 6.5% of the area.  If we prorate the cost, then Arkansas might be worth about $20,744,000 in today's dollars.

I picked Arkansas because it is one of a number of states that were acquired by the Louisiana Purchase. After making the case for property rights in Arkansas, I'll make a similar case for rights in other states and other territories with different histories.

Since Arkansas was once bought by the Federal Government, it's not hard to imagine that it might have been bought by some other entity, or that it might have been sold by the Federal Government to a willing purchaser -- like me. In this thought experiment let's imagine that I've formed a corporation called ArkanCorp, raised the necessary funds, and I've bought Arkansas, on pretty much the same terms that the government of France sold it to the United States government. For simplicity, let me be the sole shareholder, and the CEO. And to make the argument just the tiniest bit more realistic, let's suppose that the rights I acquire in Arkansas are not the absolute rights that the United States, a fully independent nation, got, but rather the rights obtained by any property owner under the laws of of the United States.

Now let's see how ArkanCorp looks a lot like an ordinary corporate entity. Consider WalMart, a corporation like ArkanCorp. The fact that it is headquartered in Arkansas is an irrelevant, and amusing coincidence. WalMart is incorporated, as is ArkanCorp, under the laws of the state of Delaware. So both corporations are subject to United States and Delaware law.

WalMart owns properties. It hires people, called "employees" who work in those properties. It lets people called "customers" visit the stores and make purchases -- or not. It lets companies called "tenants" occupy defined spaces within its properties, subject to agreements between WalMart and those tenants. Employees must follow rules that WalMart has established for employees. Customers who visit WalMart must follow rules that WalMart has established for customers. Tenants must follow the rules that WalMart has established. Because WalMart is owner of its properties, then it can establish whatever rules it wants, subject to regulations imposed by the city, state, county, and country in which a particular property is found.

Now compare with ArkanCorp. ArkanCorp owns a single, really, really big property, coextensive with the modern state of Arkansas. ArkanCorp does many things similar to things that WalMart does, only we at ArkanCorp sometimes use different words than WalMart uses.

WalMart deals with "customers", "employees", and "tenants." Decisions within WalMart are made by "management." ArkanCorp deals with "residents," "citizens and non-citizens." Decisions within ArkanCorp are made by "government."

WalMart tenants can't just occupy any unoccupied space in a WalMart store. They have to pay to be allowed to do so. What they pay is called "rent." In some cases a third party might acquire the rights to some space and the tenant pays the rent that's set by the third party, which then pays WalMart.

ArkanCorp customers must likewise pay to occupy space in Arkansas. What they pay we call "property tax." If a third party has acquired the space then they might pay the third party. In that case, the payment is called "rent" and the third party pays the "property tax."

WalMart customers get some things for free -- like heat, light and the use of toilets -- but must pay to get other products and services from WalMart. We call the amount paid a "price." ArkanCorp "residents" get some things for free, but must pay to get other products and services from ArkcanCorp. We call the payments a "tax."

WalMart charges rent to tenants based on the space that's used, but there's no reason that they could not  charge rents based on gross sales, or the number of customers who walk by the property, or anything else. As long as it's legal, they can do it.

People can't legally have jobs in Arkansas unless they are citizens (of the United States). They can't legally have jobs in WalMart unless they are employees of WalMart, or of a tenant. WalMart employees have rights, responsibilities, and benefits that are different than those of visitors. In that sense, they are much like citizens of Arkansas. Likewise ArkanCorp "citizens" have rights, responsibilities, and benefits that ordinary visitors don't have.

Since in a free market system, the owner of a property is allowed to make up rules, set conditions, and charge fees for people use the property that's owned, ArkanCorp can make up laws and charge taxes for what it owns or controls. The only difference between ArkanCorp and some other corporate entity is the terms that ArkanCorp uses: rules versus laws; fees versus taxes.

If you don't like WalMart's rules, either as a "customer" or a "tenant" you are free to go somewhere else. If you insist on going to WalMart and playing by your own rules you will be restrained -- either by WalMart security, or by the police forces of a larger entity in which a particular WalMart property is located.

Similarly, if you don't like ArkanCorp's rules, either as a "citizen" or a "resident" or a "visitor" you are free to go somewhere else. If you insist on going onto ArkanCorp proprety and playing by your own rules you will be retrained -- either by ArkanCorp security or the police forces of a larger entity in which the ArkcanCorp property is located.

Maine Isn't Arkansas
OK, so if you buy the idea that Arkansas could be owned by an individual or company and a company could do exactly what that state government does, that doesn't hold for every state. Maine was never sold, so it couldn't be bought. Nor was Massachusetts, New York of Texas. The government of Arkansas might have the right to do whatever they want because Arkansas owns everything in Arkansas. But if you've got a house in Maine, then it's yours, right? What gives the state the right to charge you for something you own? What gives the Federal Government the right to make you pay taxes.

The answer, I will offer, is essentially the same as in the case of Arkansas. When England settled the Colonies, people who occupied the colonies were subject to whatever conditions that the Crown might have earlier or might later impose. Whatever the conditions were, they were conditions established by the Crown as part of its property rights.

The Crown chartered companies, like the Massachusetts Bay Company, and private owners, like William Pitt, and granted them rights over certain geographic areas under charters, issued by the Crown. Never did the Crown surrender its right to revoke charters, and never did the Crown relinquish its right to make new rules for those who occupied the territories that it owned when and as it saw fit. The charters of the original colonies and later the states have been collected here.

The American Revolution resulted in successive forms of government that replaced the Crown and those powers established by the Crown: first the Confederation and later the United States Government as defined by the Constitution and the various states which constituted themselves after the end of the war. But the Crown's over-arching property rights were never surrendered entirely. Rather they were transferred from the old government to the new.

One goal of the Revolution: "No taxation without representation" was met. There was still taxation, but it was taxation with representation.

How did England get the right to tax? How did it gain the ability to control the lives of people who resided (or merely transited) geographic areas to which it laid claim? Those are stories for another time. But I'll give you a hint: violence.

Waking up, again

Photo credit: naydeeyah via Foter.com / CC BY

It’s maddening. Days go by. Perfectly good days. Enjoyable days. And then, one day, I WAKE UP, and I realize that I’ve spent all of those days without awareness, watching my life go by.

The first time I woke up it was surprising. Enlightening. Uplifting. I had moved from a state of unawareness to vibrant wakefulness. I was awake! Alive! It was wonderful. I wrote about it, here. And again here. And here. And here.

Today I realize that the experience of waking up has changed. Once it was: “Holy shit! I’m awake! This is cool.” And now it’s: “Fuck! Did I fall asleep again? How did I do that? How long have I been out this time? A week. Shit! Fuck! Shit!”

Well, alright, that’s how it is. And that “Fuck! Did I fall asleep again?” That’s not me awake. It’s a conditioned response to waking up. I’m in the dream, dreaming that I’m awake and reacting in a way that makes good dream sense. It looks a lot like being awake, but it’s not. Just as my being awake or not is nearly undetectable to people who are not me, this false-awakeness is nearly undetectable even to me. It’s a pretty good imitation of awakeness, but it’s not awakeness.


Because if I was actually awake I wouldn’t be pissed off. I wouldn’t be saying “Holy shit! I’m awake!” either. “Holy shit! I’m awake!” is a line in a story that I might tell myself, or might and have told someone else about being awake. It's part of a script. It’s not being awake.

My awakeness has two dimensions: how fully awake am I, and how long can I maintain that state. Just as there are deeper and deeper levels of unconsciousness, deeper and deeper levels of dreaming, so there are greater and greater degrees of awakeness.

The kind of awakeness I've experienced only lasts an instant. It’s quickly followed by “Holy shit! I’m awake.” But it is a starting point. According to the Aro and Dzogchen stuff that I’ve read, having that instant of realization of awakeness is the necessary STARTING point for a steep path to further awakeness.

I keep falling asleep, forgetting everything that I have learned, then finding my way back to that STARTING point. Actually, I have two STARTING points, the LOWER, and the UPPER. I reach the LOWER point in moments when I realize that I am awake, aware of witnessing some part of my life, and not mindlessly watching it. I reach the UPPER point when, having reached the LOWER point I remember to look to the SELF that is awake, so see whether the SELF is an illusion. That act propels me through a metaphorical wormhole and there, for a moment, I find myself at the UPPER point.

When I live my life, in the ordinary sense of lived life, I quickly lose everything that I have gained. I go back into the somnolent state that I was in before I woke up for the first time, and I seem to stay there until the next opportunity to REMEMBER appears. Writing about the process, takes me again on that journey. Telling someone about it does likewise. They force me to REMEMBER the path, and sometimes to walk it.

I realize that I need to DEVELOP my practice. I don’t want to rely on CHANCE presenting me with opportunities to explain my strange journey and thereby to reproduce the journey and WAKE UP.

I want to blog daily. 

It can be easy to blog, easy enough to write in my sleep. I’ve certainly written more than one post that way. But I think I’d do better if I made it my business to WAKE UP every day, to do my writing while AWAKE and not asleep.

So this post is going up. And after that another one. And another. All awake.

Jan 21, 2016


Everything in life teaches you something. Here are some things I’ve learned from cancer: mine, and others.

Oh,  you didn’t know that I had cancer? Sorry. Forgot to tell you. Actually I didn’t know myself until yesterday. And by then I didn’t have it any more. Or I didn’t have that particular cancer any more. I probably have others. Which sucks. But they are likely not really bad. Which mitigates the suckiness.

Let me start over.

Bobbi and I were in Florida visiting my brother, the doctor. He saw something on my head that he didn’t like. Aside from my face, haha.

What he saw was a little scabby thing on my forehead. He asked me about it. I told him that it had been there for a while. I kept picking at it. It would scab over. But it never went away. So he said he wanted to take it off. The scabby thing. Not my head. Ha ha.

He’s a doctor and can do those things.That’s us in the picture. He’s the one whose face you can see.  He took it the scabby thing off and sent it for a biopsy. A couple of days, his son, the other doctor, called and told me the report came back. Basal cell carcinoma. Clean margins (which means he got it all). But still.

As I said, my brother is a doctor. Technically he’s a retired doctor. Even more technically he’s a retired doctor with cancer. In the picture, technically, both brothers have got cancer. You can’t see mine because of the thing covering my head. You can’t see his because it’s not one of the visible, easily removed kinds. If you ever insist on getting cancer (not something I advise) then get my kind rather than his kind. He’s been diagnosed with it for six, years and counting. And get his kind rather than the kind that pretty quickly and fairly horribly killed our friend Tom

My kind is called basal cell carcinoma. I’m calling the one that my brother took off Basil. Basil the basal cell carcinoma. According to Wikipedia, It’s a very common kind of cancer, develops very slowly, and there are things that you can do about it. Like chop it off. But also other things. From the main symptom I associate with this one (little scabby thing that won’t go away) I’m guessing I’ve got at least one more, maybe a couple. Concerned? Yes. Worried? No.

His kind is called myeloma and it’s bad. Right now what he’s got is called “smoldering myeloma” which means “wait around until your myeloma bursts into flames and then watch the clock.” The median survival rate once you are symptomatic is 4.5 years. Crap!

Mine is nothing. Well, not nothing, but not much. I can, with some difficulty, think the thought “I’ve probably got more cancers growing in my body” and set off my limbic alarm system. But it’s not very loud, and I have to work at it to keep it on. Like I’m trying to do as I write this.

And I’ll stop ignoring those other suspicious places, and have my skin (lots of moles) checked by a doctor again this year like I’m supposed to do every couple of years. I do check myself, and the one time I found something that I didn’t remember having THAT turned on the full limbic alarm system to the degree that I couldn’t wait a week for my doctor to see me and went to a local walk-in clinic because swapping $90 for either peace of mind or a one-week-earlier start seemed like a good deal.

So I’m not worried. I was actually more worried when I found out about his cancer than I was when I found out about mine. I mean worried about me. Of course I was concerned about him. I am a certified asshole, but not that bad. But as he described the symptoms I thought: “My god! I’ve got that, too.” And rushed in to my doctor for some tests, and did a lot of thinking about mortality.

He’s getting a checkup at the cancer clinic in Arkansas, right now. He’s been been going there every six months since he got the news. His condition is progressing, but very slowly. For which I and all the people who love him (and there are many of us) are grateful. Coincidentally we’ll be driving through that area tomorrow on the way to the Coast.

I have no personal experience dying, but I’ve heard we all die some day. There’s no way of getting out of here alive, they say. But until then we do the best we can do. And right now, today, this is the best I can do.

Jan 16, 2016

Catching up

I’m behind on my writing. For three days I’ve posted nothing. Despite the back-date on this post, it’s really January 19th.

This is not new. It has happened before. I’ve dealt with it.  Poorly. But this time I’m going to deal with it differently. Better.

Before I write about the new way, let me describe the old. I’ve dealt with it in one of these ways. First, I’ve bitched, castigated myself, spurred myself to work, and caught up. I’ve done that a couple of times this year already. After doing that enough times, I realize that I’ve fallen too far behind to catch up. So I accept the loss and start. After doing that a few times I think fuck it, and that’s it for a long while.

Eventually I come back to my love of writing, and I wish I’d found a way to muddle through.

It might be different this time (and I hope it is) because of waking up, the book, and the act and my further reflections on free will and conditioning. From this perspective here’s what I see: My writing has always been a conditioned act. The words come out because I have elaborate, well tuned machinery that makes words come out. Like right now. Here they come.

When I stop writing, (when my writing machinery breaks down) I’ve got other machinery that gets me going again. But when that machinery breaks down there’s no machinery to fix it. Or if there is, then when that machinery breaks. Somewhere in the chain of turtles there is a failure.

So unless I happen to wake up, observe the problem, and deliberately craft a solution, I will continue to not write until something triggers my “start all over again” machinery. Then, as conditioned, I will start all over again.

The wheel of karma!

When I write, here’s the way I write. I put words down on paper. Then I rearrange the words. Then rearrange them again and again. And then one of two things happens: I say “done” and press Publish. Or, more usually, I don’t. Either I go on to write and never finish and finally quit, or I get distracted and start to write something else. Either way, the process grinds to a halt, as above.

There’s no process other than “just do it.”

I’d like for me to do the writing, wide awake, all the time, but I’m very far from being there. Instead, I’m going to create a process and monitor it closely. I want the process to reliably result in me writing and publishing the things that I want to write. I’d like to sit down each day, pick a topic, write on that topic, be done, and press publish. The challenge is getting from something like where I’ve been to something like where I want to get to.

That’s where Barbara Baig comes in. She says: you need to break any complex task into discrete skills, and practice the skills. Practice, not performance, is a key. And not just repetition. Deep practice. Deliberate practice.

She divides writing skills into two families: she calls one “Content Skills” and the other “Word Skills” and she’s written a book on each, link may be provided later. Or you can Google. I’ve written about this before and then fallen asleep on myself. So again! Wake up!

Here are the skills that I think that I need to develop:

First: generating topics. I do that all the time, but I do it in a random, uncontrolled way. I’ve got lists of topics, mostly in parts of my brain that don’t talk to each other. So for topic generation, I’ve now got a Google Doc called Topic List. I plan to collect all my random topic ideas there, and use it to organize them.

Second: picking a topic. This is a problem because my current topic-picking process is unstructured, even random. So the picking a topic skill includes reviewing my topic list, prioritizing it, and then choosing the one that I feel most interested in writing about.

Third: two inch picture frame. Everything in the world is connected to everything else, and part of my joy in learning is finding out about those connections, and part of my joy in writing is writing about them. But the process makes any piece of writing unbounded. So the skill is keeping what I am writing about manageable. Annie LaMott in "Bird By Bird" talks about a two inch picture frame. The next skill is constraining the topic, so that it does not become the entire world. I need to work on that one a lot.

Fourth: generating or collecting ideas on the topic. This is one of Barbara Baig’s content skills. I’m good at finding ideas, but  bad at organizing them in ways that let me refer to them easily when I am writing. TBD: find ways to improve that skill.

Fifth: organize the ideas. That’s related to the two inch picture frame. Some ideas may deserve an essay of their own. Great, if so. Add to the topic list, and just make mention of the idea. And in that case, if essay A mentions topic B, then the entry in the topic list for B can have a link to essay A so that when the more detailed writeup is done, then I can link back.

Sixth: write a summary. I suck at this, but it’s the key to the two inch picture frame and to avoiding scope creep. In this case it’s “I’m behind on my writing. It’s TK days since I’ve posted anything. This has happened before and I’ve dealt with it.  Poorly. But this time I’m going to deal with it differently.” So that’s the story. How am I going to deal with it differently. To do that I have to say how I’ve dealt in the past. And onward.

Seventh: Write. Now we’re out of content skills and into word skills, and here I could get better, but I need less word skills practice than content skills practice. The proof: by struggling through a disciplined content-skills process while writing about it, I’ve managed to get from the first sentence down to here with almost no breaks, no digressions, no distractions.

A few additional points. I decided to write my drafts in Google Docs rather than directly in Blogger. This has an advantage and a disadvantage. The disadvantage is that the formatting doesn’t always translate cleanly which means I have to go back and clean it up which then means I’m tempted to go down the hole editing and never finishing. I have a theory on how I can handle that with a markdown plugin I use, and I’m going to save it for another post.

The advantage is that I can post-mortem my writing by using a very cool Chrome add-in called “Draftback.” And that’s another topic for another post.

And that, as they say, is that.

Jan 15, 2016

I love Google, part N of ∞

My Chromebook touchpad was not working right. Yes, it was working, but it was laggy. I had to try a dozen times to move the cursor from here to there. Sometimes it would move part way. Sometimes it wouldn't move at all. Suck!

When in doubt, ask Google. The image at the top shows what happened when I typed "chromebook touchpad not working"

When plugged in? I wonder? So I pull the plug. And my touchpad works. Yay!

For comparison I tried bing. And below is what I got:

More results. More noise. No help.

I love Google.

Jan 14, 2016

My warm little nest (and Nest)

You never know what matters until you nearly lose it. That's what happened when I lost contact with my Nest thermostat. And our little nest in Maine.

On the road, away from home, I get an email from Lisa, the lady who is looking after our plants while we are away: Power went off in the house. Generator didn't go on. Called the generator service. They took care of it. All is fine.


But then I check my newly installed Nest and find it's not online.

Maybe a problem. Maybe not. The Nest is two routers away from my ISP, so maybe there's a problem with one of my routers. Fortunately I've another Internet-capable device connected to the first router. So I check that. Also down.

I call the house phone. We've got an answering machine in the house and a backup at our phone service provider. The voice prompts are slightly different, so I'm able to confirm that the home answering machine has power. So good. Everything's OK. Or is it.

I have the guy who plows for us take a look. He tells me power is off in my office where the primary router is located. Huh?

I write her an email, and fortunately, Lisa drops by the house and checks it out.  It turns out that when the generator went off it didn't transfer the critical areas back to our power supplier. Non-critical areas (like the answering machine) had power. Critical ones, like my office did not. And also like the Nest. And, oh yeah, like the furnace. Not. The temperature is in the teens outside, and the house is on its way there.

Lisa calls the generator guy who flips the switch which turns on the heat and the first router. I can see the device that's attached to it. But not the Nest.

Then I read about a problem in a software update Nest has put out that causes Nests to drop off line, lose their battery charge and fail.


Happy ending. Lisa stops by next morning. I walk her through the reboot procedure. The Nest does not come on line right away, but a few hours later, when I check, there it is!

Now I check a dozen times a day. It's nice to see my little Nest plugging away.

And even nicer to know that our little nest is warm.

So every time I check, I smile.

Jan 13, 2016

Four free will fables

Man thinking on a train journey.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As Fred was growing up  his parents told him what to do in order to be a good person, and that's what he does. Or tries to do. When a situation he's in matches something that he's been told about, he does what he's been told to do in that situation. When there's no clear match and he needs to decide what to do, he follows the decision-making guidelines that he's been told to use.

Does Fred exhibit free will? Does he have it?

If you asked him whether he did or not have free will he would have said yes.

Or he would have said no, it all depends on what he's been told.

Do you think he exhibits free will?

Jane was raised differently than Fred. Her parents also also told her what to do in order to be a good person. And one of the things they told her was: "Question everything! Don't take anything on authority." Then they laughed an added "Including this."

So she does what she's been told. She's open to different points of view, and chooses among them.

If you asked her whether he did or not have free will she would probably have said yes.

Do you think she exhibits free will?

Tommy grew up just like Jane, but his parents also told him:  "never make an important decision until you've spent at least five minute inventing plausible alternatives, then choose the best among them."

When Tommy is faced with an important decision he does a lot of thinking, because that's what he's been told to do. Sometimes he thinks of things that are equal to, or based on things he's read. From time to time he thinks of something that he can't remember having read or heard, so he thinks that it's his own idea.

If you asked Tommy whether he has free will he might give you a quick answer. If you told him it was an important decision, he might take five minutes thinking, then give you an answer.

Do you think he exhibits free will?

Mary was raised like Tommy, or maybe like Jane, or maybe even like Fred, but her path diverged after she had what she came to call "waking up." She suddenly realized that she lived most of her life in a kind of trance state, doing things automatically. Then she lost that realization. Then, later, she had it again, and realized that she'd spent the time between the two realizations in a trance state.

She learned that she was not the only person ever to have that experience: there was a body of thought, literature, and practice devoted to understanding, maintaining and extending the experience that she called "being awake."

If you asked Mary before her "awakening" if she had free will, she would have said yes.

If you asked her afterward, she would have said: "Certainly not when I'm in the trance state. In that state, everything that I do is conditioned. There's no free will involved."

If you asked her after she'd been working for a while to understand "awakeness" and "trance" she might have said: "I might. But if I do, it's only when I'm awake."

If you asked her some time later she might have laughed. Then she might have written this post, which I would have found in my Drafts folder.

I might have edited this several times, because that's what I've been conditioned to do.

And, then, as I am conditioned myself to do, I would have published it.

But first, I would have changed the date to January 13.

Jan 12, 2016

My brother the bee whisperer

Two videos, with my bro, Dr. Mark Wolf, bee whisperer and bee wrangler, capturing bee swarms.

First, here's now you do it right:

And here's how you do it wrong:

Jan 11, 2016

I am a cyborg. And Google helps me remember my life

We live our lives in moments, and as soon as a moment has entered our memories and passed it begins to fade. That is, assuming you made a memory impression in the first place. And when you die all those memories are gone. Fortunately, I am a cyborg. Not all my memories fade. And some of them will live on.

In the old days memories were hard to make, and most would fade fast. Facts that I needed to learn I'd press into my memory by constant repetition. That's how I came to know, for example, that 8 x 8 was 64. As I lived life, though, only a few important details of an event would impress themselves strongly enough to be remembered even half an hour after the fact -- assuming I was "awake" enough to have formed any impression at all. I might just as well have not lived most of the day, most of my days. Everything about those days was quickly gone.

My recent attempts to wake up more aware, awake, mindful, now help me make better, clearer impressions of some of those moments. But in the end it's the same. Even when I see things that are -- well, memorable is a good word -- they fade. Even if I say "I want to remember that" I will remember, at best, only a few details and most often only for a little while.

Why? Because my brain was limited. My memories were limited. Mother nature, in her infinite wisdom, developed algorithms that let me use my limited human resources in a reasonably effective way. Effective enough for me to be alive today.  But not as effective as I'd want.

Fortunately, I have evolved beyond my primitive, human beginnings.

I am a cyborg, and celebrate that fact.

Like it or not, you are, too.

I am no less human than I ever was, but I am more than merely human, now. Some of my memories still live in my head, where they fade, fade, fade as they always did. But now I now have other places to store my memories. Thanks to civilization, I was able to store them in diaries and notebooks. In journals and files. In photo albums. And retrieve them, but not easily. But now -- praise be -- I can store my memories more and more completely, and more and more easily in the cloud.

I'm no longer limited to remembering and easily retrieving what I can sense with my primitive, crude, evolved sense organs. I have new ones that complement the old. For vision I have photographic sense-extensions that can record, in an instant, detail that would take me hours to capture the old fashioned way. Then I can store (memorize) the image and it will persist with no degradation, pretty much forever.

My kinesthetic senses, which help me perceive the position and location of my body in a small region of space, are complemented by my GPS-locational sense that can detect, and record my position in much larger space (though with much lower resolution) and store the history of my position forever. Another sense can record some of what I hear (and some of what I don't hear) and save the auditory memory forever. With some loss of visual detail, my video sense can record images in motion with with sound, and store for later retrieval.

Part of what I am is stuck in this deteriorating 73-year-old body. That part of me will die when the body dies. But part of what I am -- some of my memories -- are found in low-rez form in this body, and some are found in hi-rez form in the cloud.

My thoughts and ideas tied to this body are moving to the cloud as posts in this blog, emails to friends, chats in hangouts. They will all live after this body goes.  And low rez versions of what I am will live on, for a while, through our kids, our friends, and others whose lives I have touched.

Google provides services that help me move some of what I experience and what I am effortlessly into the cloud and equally important, to retrieve them after they are stored. Google's services keep track of where I am (because I let them know), automatically upload the photos and videos that I take with my mobile devices, and let me upload the photos that I'm taking with my digital camera. Some of what I am is what I've learned, and some of what I've learned I've found in the cloud. I remember details which fade. Google helps me find the thread again through search history, chrome history, and other services.

Google Timeline is a new and awesome tool that helps me organize some those memories so that I can retrieve them as whole experiences, not just isolated facts. I first tripped Timeline a few months ago and found a record of our trip to Europe for Dana's wedding complete with maps and photos.

Timeline keeps track of my location over time (or the location of my phone, anyway) integrates that information with maps, information about the world that it knows (like the names of restaurants and motels) and things that I have told it (like 47 Beeswax Line is "Mom's house") the pictures and videos that have been uploaded. Maybe other stuff.

Today, looking for some ideas to write about and catch up on my posting, I remembered Timeline. Went there. Went to the first day of our current trip, Jan 7, for which I owed a post. The image at the top is what I found.

I'll write about that day later (or earlier, depending on what time stamps you believe). There are parts of the story of that day that Google has not captured for me.

But today's big insight is what I ended up writing about: I am a cyborg. A joined human/computer system. I way more than a machine can be. But I am also much more than the human that I used to be.


If you are interested in all the features of Timeline, you can go here.

If you are interested in more of the features of me, cyborg or not, you can subscribe to my blog, or follow me on G+. (https://plus.google.com/+MikeWolf)

Jan 10, 2016

On the road, day 2

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Here's where we went, according to my Timeline reminders. I managed to take pictures of things that I saw along the way, mostly mundane, but still prompting memories.